Just Think of Canada as 11 More States

I’m a loyal Canadian. I enjoy Tim Hortons, and don’t mind the Canadian Tire guy. But as Canadians, I think we need to get the message across to Americans that we’re not all that much different from them, and not that far away.

Why do I say this? Because one too many times I’ve been shopping online, found the exact product I want, and then find the dreaded statement:

Sorry, we are able to ship (and mail printed catalogs) only to the US, its territories and possessions, and APO or FPO addresses.

Why? Why why why?

I assume it’s not because you hate Canadians. We’re not a bad people. And our money can be exchanged for goods and services the same as yours. Our money is more colourful than yours, and one of our dollars isn’t worth quite as much as one of yours (for now anyway BWAhahah) but when something costs $50 of your dollars, you get $50 of your dollars when we buy it. You don’t have to do any funny math to convert our dollars into your dollars – Visa does that for you when we buy your products.

Our postal code looks different from your zip code. It’s always in the same format: A1A 1A1 where A is a letter and 1 is a number. When you’re updating your site to handle that American invention of having zip codes have 5 digits plus 4 more digits (90210-1234) maybe you could add support for our format as well. And add our 11 “states” to your list.

The only thing left is for you to ship to Canada.

This is the part that involves a wee bit of extra work for you, and maybe it’s the reason that so many US retailers turn away our dollars. But here’s “how to ship to Canada” demystified:

You have to fill out a little green sticker to go on the box, that says what’s in the box and how much it cost.

That’s it. Assuming you’re not shipping us bombs or drugs or livestock, that’s all there is to it.

You can charge us extra for shipping. UPS and FedEx can tell you exactly how much extra, and then you can even pad it a bit if you like. Especially if you’re selling something unique – we’d rather pay a little extra for your trouble than not be able to buy your products at all.

So please, think of us as just 11 more states. Resign yourself to filling out a few more fields when you ship us a product, and open your business up to 32 million more potential consumers. Better order some extra pens for filling out those extra forms.